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  The research archive of Gary W. Ewer regarding the history of the daguerreotype

On this day (August 10) in the year 1901, the following obituary appeared in "The Boston Herald": - - - - - - - OLDEST IN THE WORLD. _______ Dean of Photographers Dies at Age of 94. _______ Josiah Johnson Hawes, a Famous Bostonian. _______ He Was the First American Disciple of Daguerre. _______ Josiah Johnson Hawes, the oldest photographer in the world, died in Crawford, N. H., Wednesday, after a brief illness. He was in his 94th year, and resided at 61 Temple street in this city. He was in active business until a few months ago. _______ Mr. Hawes was born in Wayland. He began life as a painter of portraits in oil, and of miniature on ivory. One day he learned that M. Gouroud, the representative of M. Daguerre, about whom and whose work something was known in this country, had come to Boston to tell the Boston artists more about the wonderful discoveries which made the sun do the work of the pencil and the brush. Mr. Hawes listened to the lecture which M. Gouroud delivered in the old Masonic Temple, and saw the works on exhibition there. An acquaintance began which culminated in Mr. Hawes taking the agency and acquiring the control of the processes of which Daguerre was the inventor. The process would be thought of little value today. The time of exposure was so long--from a half hour to three hours--that the process was useless for anything but landscapes and still life, the interiors of stores which do not advertise, the district messenger boy in motion, and the progress of rapid transit.[sic] _______ This was in 1841. Two years later Dr. Draper of New York made some discoveries which reduced the time of exposure from one-half hour to 25 seconds. This was a great step. It made possible the taking of portraits, and although the process was different, was really the beginning of photography. Then is was that the studio in the top of the old brick building at 19 Tremont row was fitted up, and Mr. Hawes, with Albert Southworth as a partner, began the business which he so long conducted. The skylight that lighted the studio was the first built for such purposes in America. The studio stood in surrounding very different from anything there today. Opposite was the residence of Gov. Hutchinson. Behind, on the hillside, [...apparent break in photocopied text...] and Wendell Phillips and Mrs. Louise Chandler Moulton, then a young woman; and Prescott, the historian. Here too, are Julian Hawthorn and his sisters, and Julia Ward Howe and Lucy Larcom. Here is one of the great family of Rothschilde, who had a partner here in Boston, and was visiting the American branch of his business interests. It is a distinctly Jewish face, and yet has something commanding, interesting and attractive about it. Horace Mann appears in profile, the smooth, white hair falling over a brow with an overhand like a modern cup racer. One of the finest and most powerful and manly head in the whole collection is that of the original Adams, the founder of the great express business. _______ There is an interesting group of Free-soilers, comprising Henry Wilson, George S. Boutwell, N.P. Banks, Anson Burlingame and a Mr. Hopkins. Sumner appears in several positions, nearly all good. There are portraits of William Lloyd Garrison, Josiah Quincy, William Warren of the old Museum company, Dorthea Lynde Dix, George Peabody, Grace Greenwood, Jared Sparks, Caleb Cushing, Judge Brigham, Judge Clifford, Judge Sanger, and a portrait of Chief Justice Shaw that would attract the attention of the most careless observer. He wore the old-fashioned dress coat, his hair was long and thick and picturesque, and the picture was taken in a strong light from above, which gives it the appearance almost of being the photograph of a statue. Among a collection of so many famous men is one of a Salem girl, only 16 or 17 years old when she sat for the picture, but a belle of all the country round. It is a face absolutely perfect in its beauty, and with a soul behind it. At one time, when exhibited at the Mechanics' building almost 40 years ago, it was insured for $1000. In Mr. Hawes' collection are over 40,000 negatives, besides several hundred daguerreotypes. Mr. Hawes found time to invent many useful things familiar to photographers during his busy career. One of them was the vignette, another was the head screw, and a third a curtain slide for plate holders. His were the first stereopticon views shown in American. He also originated the swing back and the multiplying camera. He kept up to the times in new methods, but was loyal to the artistic beauty of the daguerreotype. For over 50 years he was a member of the Mr. Vernon Church. Mr. Hawes is survived by two daughters, Miss Alice M. Hawes, a teacher in the public schools; Miss Marion A. Hawes, and one son, Edward Southworth Hawes, a teacher in the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. The funeral will be held today with services at his home, 61 Temple street, and will be private. (Original errors of spelling/grammar maintained. This article does also include errors of facts.) -------------------------------------------------------------- 08-10-98

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